It’s well known that smoking is detrimental to your health and in a lot of cases can kill you. If you asked people what they regarded as the disease that kills smokers the most, they’d probably answer with some form of cancer.
But in actuality, heart disease is the number one killer of smokers.
That’s not to say that lung cancer or any other diseases that are smoking related don’t claim lives, they definitely do. As well as many different diseases, smoking contributes to a number of chronic conditions that can alter a smoker’s life drastically.
In this article we will list 10 of the worst diseases that smoking can cause, so you can see for yourself if a cigarette is really worth it.
1. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that obstructs airflow from the lungs. Its chronic nature can seriously alter a smoker’s life and even cause disability and early death.
It can make even walking up a small flight of stairs the hardest of challenges and can cause coughing fits and a shortness of breath just from this simple exercise.
People who suffer with COPD are also more likely to get heart disease and lung cancer, especially if they continue with smoking.
Smoking can double your risk of dying from a stroke. The tobacco in a cigarette can thicken the blood which increases the risk of blood clots and also narrows the arteries and restricts the amount of oxygen that can pass through the blood.
This can temporarily block the blood supply to your brain which means your brain cells are losing oxygen and are starting to die.
This is why stroke victims will have slurred speech or paralysis on one side of their body. If you smoke over 20 cigarettes a day then you are six times more likely to have a stroke.
Having a stroke is highly fatal and even if you survive one, the damage from the stroke is most likely already done, and you may have to deal with life changing injuries.
You’ve most likely heard of asthma before and know that it’s not a disease that’s exclusive to smoking. But smoking can increase the chance of having asthma symptoms and asthma attacks.
It’s a chronic lung condition that makes it harder for air to move in and out of your lungs and because cigarettes irritate the air passages, it makes smokers much more prone to suffering from intense asthma attacks.
Smokers who are suffering with asthma also need a much higher dosage of steroid preventer medicine to keep the inflammation of the airways down.
If your asthma keeps getting worse and you keep smoking, you’ll be much more at risk for COPD and other serious lung conditions.
4. Heart Disease
Heart disease is regarded as the number one killer of smokers in the US. As we’ve mentioned earlier, smoking blocks and weakens the arteries which stops blood flow and oxygen from getting to your heart and this increases the risk of a heart attack.
The scary part about heart disease is that the symptoms aren’t always obvious, so you may not know that you have it.
It cannot be cured once you have it, but it can be managed so the risk of heart attacks lessen, though this all depends on whether you stop smoking and change your diet.
5. Reproductive Health
The effects of smoking can seriously harm both male and female’s reproductive health even before conception. In men it can cause a reduced number of sperm or a sperm deformity, impotence and infertility.
In women it can cause cervical cancer, ectopic pregnancy and also infertility.
During pregnancy smoking is even worse, it poses incredible risks to not only the person who is pregnant but also the fetus.
It can cause miscarirage, stillbirth or birth defects and as the child grows up, they’re much more likely to have smoking-related health effects due to the parent smoking whilst they were in the womb.
They’re more likely to take up smoking themselves and may even be more prone to anxiety disorders than a baby whose mother did not smoke whilst they were pregnant.
6. Lung Cancer
Smoking is the number one risk factor for lung cancer and more people die from lung cancer than any other cancer.
This happens as the smoke you inhale damages the cells of the lungs and the effects are pretty much immediate, if you’re a new smoker then your lungs have probably repaired the damage already but once you keep doing it your lungs won’t be able to repair the damage anymore.
In the US, smoking is linked to around 80%-90% of lung cancer deaths.
Smoking increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and it also makes it much harder to manage diabetes if you’re a smoker.
Insulin is usually administered to help blood sugar enter the cells, but the nicotine in cigarettes change the cells so they don’t respond as well to insulin which makes it a lot harder to diabetic and a smoker.
Smoking also increases the risk of complications once you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes like heart and kidney disease.
8. Bone Weakness (Osteoporosis)
Smoking can also reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium which leads to lower bone density and weaker bones, the nicotine in cigarettes also slows the production of bone-forming cells which are crucial for healing and over time a smoker can be more at risk for developing osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis can increase a smoker’s risk of fractures which means if they fall, they’re more likely to get seriously hurt or injured.
9. Blindness Or Cataracts
It’s not surprising that smoking can cause significant eye damage, if you’ve ever smoked or stood near a person smoking and a waft of smoke goes near your eyes it can be super painful.
Over time, this can result in cataracts or even blindness in serious cases. Smoking is the leading cause for blindness in those aged 65 and over.
10. Mental Health Problems
Not only does tobacco use cause many physical problems, but it can also cause many mental health issues. Depression, anxiety and other mental disorders are common in smokers.
This is mainly due to the addictive nature of nicotine.
Especially if you try to stop smoking, this can result in nicotine withdrawals which can lead to a numerous amount of painful side effects and in turn this can lead to a number of mental health issues relating to the withdrawal stage.
But the feelings of addiction will dissipate over time once you quit smoking, and the mental problems will most likely go along with the cravings.
As you can see, smoking has a numerous amount of diseases that can drastically impact your life or even kill you. These are just 10 dangerous diseases listed here but there are so many more.
It’s never too late to quit and help is available if this article has changed your stance on smoking. You should contact your doctor or health professional to see what advice they can give you regarding quitting smoking.